Jeffco School Board Recall Petition Drive Wraps Triumphant

UPDATE 5:00PM: Recall organizers announce they will turn in over 30,000 signatures to recall each conservative majority Jeffco school board member, more than double the 15,000 required, to the Jefferson County Clerk’s office Tuesday morning:

Turn-In Tuesday

Join us as we turn in more than 30,000 Signatures For Each Board Majority Member!

We will be turning in more than double the required signatures to the Jeffco Clerk this Tuesday at noon. We would love lots of you to join us as we turn in these signatures. Please arrive by 11:30 am at the Clerk’s Election office (not at the Taj Mahal, but in a separate building).

Jefferson County Clerk and Recorder
3500 Illinois Street, Suite 1100
Golden, Colorado 80401

Once we turn in the signatures, we will turn our focus to the November election!


Ken Witt, John Newkirk, Julie Williams (WNW).

Ken Witt, John Newkirk, Julie Williams (WNW).

9NEWS’ Nelson Garcia reports, the campaign seeking to recall three far-right members of the Jefferson County Board of Education, Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams (collectively known as “WNW”) has reached its goal of 15,000 required signatures to recall each board member with a comfortable margin–a drive that took less than three weeks to complete despite a 60-day deadline.

“We’ve been collecting signatures for 17 days. Our goal was 20,000 to 25,000 signatures and have surpassed that goal already,” [Jeffco United for Action spox Lynea] Hansen said. “I think it also says very loudly and clearly that Jefferson County wants this recall.”

[Volunteer Lorelei] Bratton thought it would take longer to gather enough signatures.

“It’s been incredibly inspiring,” Bratton said.

Hansen says Witt, Newkirk, and Williams have shown a lack of transparency and have abused school board policy.

“Everybody’s really worried about the direction that JeffCo Schools is headed in and this is their answer to helping stop that change that isn’t good change.”

Jeffco recall petitions.

Jeffco recall petitions.

Having easily brought in the number of Jeffco voter signatures required in so little time, it’s basically assured now that the recall question will appear on the regular November ballot in Jefferson County, along with the two seats up for election this year currently held by outgoing progressive minority school board members. Again, this is a key development, since recall opponents’ messaging against the recall has up to now revolved around a huge expense for the district to hold a recall election. Organizers never planned anything but a recall election in November, however, and said so. Today, they can assure anybody who was concerned that the recall election will not cost the school district hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The only thing we can add is that, by all accounts we have heard, the reason the petition drive was quick and easy is that the community in Jefferson County is keenly aware of what is going on in the battle over their school board. Voters who have no idea who, say, their state representative is are paying attention–and needed no convincing to sign the recall petition. The highly visible public protests carried out by Jeffco students last fall over the board majority’s disastrous proposed “review” of AP history curriculum, along with subsequent protests along Jeffco’s highest-traffic arterial street, have succeeded in making this school board a household discussion item–and the sentiment is overwhelmingly against what the right-wing board majority has done. High quality public schools are a major and longstanding point of civic pride for residents of Jefferson County, and they perceive that to be under threat.

As we’ve said before, what’s happening here can’t be manufactured. You couldn’t buy it for a billion dollars. It is an authentically grassroots uprising by a legitimately aggrieved community. In an era when seemingly every political “movement” is the product of some lavishly funded and focus-grouped professionalized action plan delivered from on high, it might even be called an inspiring thing to witness.

Either way, if the petition drive’s swift success is any indicator, God help “WNW.”

19 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Progressicat says:

    It would be a shame to waste all this work by putting up a bunch of turds as candidates.  Choose quickly and choose well, or you may just get fooled again.

    • Conserv. Head Banger says:

      That is well said. Will be interesting to see how the prospective replacement candidates stand on the poorly written and open ended disaster known as Amendment 66. If they supported it; and a reminder that it lost by 30 points; then the pro-recall people have a problem. 

  2. BlueCat says:

    What real grass roots looks like. 

  3. FrankUnderwood says:

    what names are being mentioned as replacement candidates?

    • mamajama55 says:

      The three successor candidates I'm aware of are Ali Lasell and Kim Johnson, both going for Jill Fellman's seat.  Ali is a classroom teacher, Kim a PTA mom and businesswoman. They both seem really education focused, rather than political mouthpieces for anyone, so that's a good thing. From Columbine Courier, article by Gabrielle Porter- you may have to create a free online account to read the article. Of the two, my progressive Jeffco friends prefer Lasell for the Arvada seat.

      Amanda Stevens seems solid; the former teacher, and now parent and Lakewood resident is  going for Lesley Dahlkemper's seat.  Columbine Courier article about Stevens.

      So those are for the two liberal seats already on the board; but I don't know what happens if the board members are recalled in November; does anyone know how that works with the three successor candidates? I'll ask my buddy.

      Also, it seems likely that the opposition people are going to challenge the hell out of the petition language in the 15 days they have to do so after the Clerk certifies the signatures. From yet another Courier article, by Gabrielle Porter:

      After 15,000 signatures are gathered for each of the three board members, several steps follow:

      • The county clerk and recorder’s office verifies the signatures within 15 business days.

      • There is a 15-day period during which the petition can be challenged.

      • The district schedules a recall election between 30 and 60 days after signatures are verified and the 10-day waiting period ends, unless it is 90 days or less before the November election, in which case the question goes on the general ballot.

      If the signatures are approved and the board majority members resign voluntarily within a few days of the approval, a recall election could be avoided – but the scenario seems unlikely.

      When asked if he had plans to resign, Witt responded:

      “In a word, no.”


      • mamajama55 says:

        Here's more official recall info from the Jeffco County Clerk's "Recall Information Packet", dated 10/16/2014. This is from page 7 of the 23 page packet, and assumes that sufficient signatures have been collected and certified by the County Clerk. The next steps are:

        Step 5: Protest and Hearing
        Any registered elector residing within the district may file a protest within 15 days after a petition is declared sufficient. A copy of the protest will be mailed to the petition proponents and the protester with a notice fixing a time for a hearing. The hearing is to be scheduled not less than 5 nor more than 10 days after such notice is mailed. The Clerk and Recorder serves as the hearing officer.
        Step 6: Call for Election
        If the officer subject to recall does not resign within 5 days after the recall petition is declared sufficient and the protest period has past, the Clerk and Recorder will set the date of election within 30 and 60 days.
         However, if a general election is to be held within 90 days after the petition is declared sufficient, the recall election will be held as part of that election. Additionally, circulators may wish to time petition submission to allow the recall election to be placed on Coordinated election ballots.
        Step 7: Nomination of Successor Candidates
        Successor candidate nomination petitions may be circulated beginning the first date on which a protest may be filed and must be filed no later than 15 calendar days before the date of the election. The successor candidate petition must be signed by eligible voters within the district. The number of required signatures
        varies by the office. Successor candidate petitions will be verified within 48 hours.
        Step 8: Campaign Finance Requirements
        All recall petition proponents must file as an issue committee in accordance with state law at the Secretary of State’s office. Information can be found for issue committee requirements at the Secretary of State website:
        Issue Committees ( Successor candidates must file a candidate affidavit and form a candidate committee, if applicable, in accordance with state law, at the Secretary of State’s office.
        Step 9: Election and Campaign Costs
        The district is required to reimburse the County Clerk for recall election expenses. If a county officer is subject to the recall, Jefferson County pays election costs. If the candidate subject to recall is not recalled, he or she must be repaid by the district for actual costs expended challenging the recall election. This amount cannot exceed $10,000

        • BlueCat says:

          Thanks. You do realize all this good info you bring us is making us very lazy!

          • mamajama55 says:

            I take no responsibility for any laziness on anyone's part wink except my own. Usually when I write a long comment or diary, it's something I'm interested in, and figure that others may be, too.

            I was confused about whether Stevens, Lasell, and Johnson were “successor” candidates, to fill the slots if recall is successful. They are not. They are vacancy candidates only. So Pcat and Franks questions still apply. I don’t know who the successor candidates may be.

            Still waiting for the marching orders and big paycheck from George Soros. Any day now…

        • Chickenheed says:

          I'm curious to see what kind of protests WNW supporters try. I'm guessing we'll find out no later than Wednesday.

      • ashleymajors1945 says:

        When Kim Johnson was asked recently about her thoughts regarding the current recall effort in Jeffco, this was her response:  " I'm concerned that it continues a focus on politics, instead of students. In the larger picture, the use of recall to settle policy and personality differences sets us up to be in a perpetual election cycle and takes focus away from critical issues. The Denver Post highlighted the issue best in their editorial stating: "Recall generally should be reserved for malfeasance, corruption or glaring incompetence. Otherwise, political campaigns will never end."

        She supports WNW, and is not on the side of serving students.  We don't need another mouthpiece for AFP on the board.  Ali Lasell  and Amanda Stevens are the two logical choices for the Board Minority seats.

  4. Republican 36 says:

    Ft. Collins and Thompson Valley School (Loveland) district elections need help too – here's why.

    The people organizing to support the three school board members in JeffCo have hired former St. Sen. Josh Penry's political-PR firm to work in support of Witt-Newkirk-Williams. Part of the strategy is to launch campaigns to take over the Ft. Collins school board and to win additional seats on the Thompson Valley board which is already controlled by the same kind of people as WNW. They believe they can divert enough resources away from JeffCo  and toward the Ft. Collins and TV board elections that the JeffCo recall supporters won't have the resources to win the recall election. 

  5. flatiron says:

    What else is on the Jeffco ballot in November??

    • OrangeFree says:

      The two other seats on the board and a handful of Municipal elections. 

      The recall effort better be careful. If this goes up in flames, they risk losing the two other seats and any meaningful voice of dissent on the board. 


      • Gilpin Guy says:

        Big risks.  Big rewards.

      • Early Worm says:

        The two dissenting seats are on the ballot no matter what.  So, even without the recall, there is a risk of a 5 – 0 majority after the election.  Putting the 3 majority seats into play does not increase the risk.  If the voters vote down the recalls and two more of their ilk, at least everyone will know where they stand.  Personally, I think that will be devastating for the JeffCo schools.  

      • flatiron says:

        So nothing else will affect turnout really — the election will be a referendum on WNW. Again, the focus is on turnout

  6. ohwilleke says:

    With the writing on the wall for the conservative slate at the JeffCo school board, look for efforts to make irreversible changes to entrench their agenda in the next few months before they are kicked out.

  7. PeoplePower says:

    There will also be an initiative on the ballot to allow the state to keep the marijuana taxes since a Tabor sub-paragraph requires them to be returned to the voters…. seems the Blue Book didn't accurately predict the revenue and expenses associated with pot sales.

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